2015 Distinguished Scientist Award

Presented to Thomas Insel, MD

Each year the Child Mind Institute’s Scientific Research Council selects an exceptional researcher for the Child Mind Institute Distinguished Scientist Award, in recognition of an outstanding contribution to child and adolescent psychiatry, psychology or developmental neuroscience. The award honors contributions either to clinical science or basic science. The award carries a prize of $25,000 and is presented at the Child Mind Institute’s Annual Child Advocacy Award Dinner. The award recipient, along with several other scientists selected because they have been influenced by recipient’s work, are featured presenters at our next On the Shoulders of Giants scientific symposium.

Through the fall of 2015, Thomas R. Insel, MD, served as director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the component of the National Institutes of Health charged with generating the knowledge needed to understand, treat and prevent mental disorders. His tenure at NIMH was distinguished by groundbreaking findings in the areas of practical clinical trials, autism research and the role of genetics in mental illnesses.

Prior to his appointment as NIMH director in fall 2002, Dr. Insel was professor of psychiatry at Emory University. There, he was founding director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, one of the largest science and technology centers funded by the National Science Foundation, and, concurrently, director of an NIH-funded Center for Autism Research. From 1994 to 1999, he was director of the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center in Atlanta. While at Emory, Dr. Insel continued the line of research he had initiated at NIMH studying the neurobiology of complex social behaviors. He has published over 250 scientific articles and four books, including the Neurobiology of Parental Care (with Michael Numan) in 2003.

Dr. Insel has served on numerous academic, scientific and professional committees and boards. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine, a fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, and is a recipient of several awards including the Outstanding Service Award from the US Public Health Service. Dr. Insel graduated from the combined BA-MD program at Boston University in 1974. He did his internship at Berkshire Medical Center, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and his residency at the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute at the University of California, San Francisco.